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|August 28, 1998||
The exhibition is a spanking success!Priya Ganapati at Pragati Maidan
Cool music by Boyzone and Bee Gees played over 100,000 square feet of exhibition space covered with 1,000 computers hooked to the Internet. Amidst this, 40 companies were displaying their products. There was freedom to just sip a cup of coffee, surf the Net and live among computers. This might sound like any teen geek's ultimate dream.
For the nerds in India, this dream came true at the India Internet World exhibition in New Delhi, organised by Mecklermedia in association with Micromedia.
The 40 jazzy stalls used every trick of the trade to lure in visitors, and more importantly, their business cards.
There were all sorts of promotional schemes from hefty discounts on products to lucky draws. And if you were as lucky as Aruna Jayanti from Aptech you could have won an HP palmtop!
After all, the exhibition was about getting noticed. There was a huge stall put by Microsoft. Wipro, IBM, Hewlett Packard, VSNL, Silicon Graphics India, you name it and they were there.
There were serious business transactions being conducted too. Sreedhar U, an executive from Wipro, expects nearly 15 per cent of the business talks to cement into actual deals. The exhibition was open from 10 am to 3 pm to business visitors only.
While casual visitors could just walk in between 3 pm and 6 pm. There were complaints about this. "The response was much less than what we had expected. This could be because of the fact that the exhibition was all on working days. Also, the time for those who had not paid to attend the conference was just around three hours," a dejected stall owner complained.
There were product presentations and demonstrations throughout the day. Hewlett Packard had most of its senior executives down at its stall. Suresh Rajpal, CEO, HP, himself was there to talk to business visitors interested in their products. The huge well-designed stall with fresh yellow flowers on the tables was very popular with the visitors. "India is a strategic market for us. In a show like this, especially this being the first one of its kind, we wanted to create general awareness about our products and what we are doing in this business," Bhaskar Gorti, director business development, Hewlett Packard told Rediff.
There were all sorts of visitors weaving through the different stalls. A homemaker with her seven-year-old son was busy looking through some highly technical brochures. "I am learning computers so I thought I will come and look through this exhibition. I want to keep up with the times," she said earnestly.
There were publishing houses too who had a field day selling computer books on Java, C and, of course, the Internet itself.
Shroff Publishers and distributors, who are popularising the O'Reilly brand of computer books in the country, had a range of books on display.
Their competitors Comdex computer publishing at the opposite side and publishers of the popular dummies series were doing roaring business, selling books only on the Internet and intranet. They had over 200 titles on display and were offering a 10 per cent discount on their titles. "We have had a sales turnover of nearly Rs 40,000 to Rs 50,000" an elated Kiran Kundu, officer coordinator, Comdex Publishing revealed.
There were many goodies up for grabs. At the IBM stall you could pick a free T-shirt by just filling up a form and giving details about yourself and your company.
Lucky draws were had by just about every stall and the prizes ranged from umbrellas to mouse pads.
The Microsoft stall was most jazzily done. The stall displayed a range of Microsoft products with product demonstrations being given throughout the day.
There was a cyber café and an Internet kiosk, both overflowing with eager surfers. VSNL, which had provided all the Internet connections at the exhibition, had a stall of its own too. "We have seen the writing on the wall and are gearing ourselves to face the competition from private ISPs," S Chakrabarti, senior manager, VSNL, told Rediff.
VSNL was showcasing a product called iPaas, video conferencing, Internet access through VSAT, lease lines and even dial-up lines. There was a lot of the crowd at the VSNL stall.
A regular VNSL Internet subscriber was busy firing one of the officials there as he had tremendous difficulty dialling up VSNL lines.
Though VSNL officers were trying very hard to put up with the demands of the relentless crowds that poured in, they were distinctly unpleasant and unresponsive at times.
Most surfing youngsters were just trying to log into their email accounts or trying to create an account for themselves.
The Internet kiosks were extremely popular with people standing in queues to get access to the computers.
IBM, which had the advantage of being the first stall from the entrance, used the opportunity to aggressively promote its e-business product.
Delhinet was the other popular stall. People were very curious to know more about their Web hosting, management and domain name registration services. ICICI Banking had a lot of visitors wanting to try out the touch-screen they had.
Then there was Capital Market, a company that provides real time stock quotes, news and charts. Their stall too had a lot of visitors but not many signed up with their price being a bit steep at Rs 30,000 per year for real time stock quotes.
There were some unusual visitors too. An 80-year-old man with his nephew was there to just see what the hype about computers and the Internet was all about.
By and large, everyone was happy. The exhibitors had got their publicity and the visitors' business cards; the youngsters had a chance to surf the Net for free and others had a glimpse of what the Internet is all about.
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